Cornell University researchers found that packing on pounds seems to dull people's sense of taste.
Packing on pounds seems to dull people's sense of taste, and puzzled researchers turned to mice to figure out why: Obesity, they found, can rob the tongue of taste buds.
If Tuesday's findings pan out, "this could be a whole new kind of target in treating obesity," said Cornell University food scientist Robin Dando, whose lab led the research. "People don't really look at the taste bud, but it's so fundamental."
Diet, exercise and genetics are among many factors that play a role in obesity. But taste preferences influence dietary choices, and some earlier studies have suggested that obese people often taste flavors with less intensity than lean people. The theory, still unproven, is that people might make up for weakened taste by turning to higher-calorie foods or generally eating more.